Reel Goals

Have you ever given yourself a goal so outlandish that when you tell people they look at you like you’re crazy? A goal that is so random that no one would ask you follow up question? I think we all have given ourselves a goal like that at one time. Mine was to watch every John Cusack film. I bestowed this goal upon myself sometime between 2003 – 2005, between Identity and The Ice Harvest releases. I watched a few of his other movies growing up and thought of him as my favorite actor so I should familiarize myself with his work. Thus came my goal.

Over the years I slowly chipped away at his extensive filmography. And it is a considerable one. Cusack has had a movie released just about every year since 1983. It’s been hard finding the earlier ones but when Netflix became more popular it became significantly easier. Now I’m left with a few random titles and just keeping up with the new releases. I’m sure there are plenty of Cusack fans out there but I wanted to share the movies I’ve seen and a few notes, because you care about my opinion so much.

Making a List, Checking it Twice

Out of the 81 titles listed below I haven’t seen 5 (I put them in bold). I’ll admit that not all of them were the greatest movie ever made but what actor’s filmography has 100% success rate?

  1. 1983 Class: An entertaining movie where Cusack has a supporting role. The movie also has young Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, and Alan Ruck so if anything it was interesting to see all of them young and early in their careers.
  2. 1984 Sixteen Candles: A John Hughes classic.
  3. 1984 Grandview, U.S.A.: Meh but it has Jamie Lee Curtis and Patrick Swayze!
  4. 1985 The Sure Thing: John Cusack and Daphne Zuniga (Spaceballs)? Cute, funny, and one I’d happily watch again.

    Better Off Dead
  5. 1985 Better Off Dead: The first Cusack movie I’d ever seen. Quirky, funny, and a classic. Curtis Armstrong is another favorite of mine.
  6. 1985 The Journey of Natty Gann: I really liked this movie. It was sweet.
  7. 1986 Stand by Me: I was pretty sure I had seen this movie before but I couldn’t remember it so I rewatched it. It’s okay.
  8. 1986 One Crazy Summer: The one with Demi Moore. Oh, and Curtis Armstrong again!
  9. 1987 Hot Pursuit: A fun movie.
  10. 1987 Broadcast News: Blink and you’ll miss him!
  11. 1988 Tapeheads: I think this movie is weird but one of my most favorite “commercials” comes from it.
  12. 1988 Eight Men Out: About the 1919 World Series. Extremely interesting and had me researching this topic after the fact. I’m always a fan of anything that makes me interested in the topic.
  13. 1989 Say Anything: Another Cusack classic. I thought it was sweet but not one of my favorites.
  14. 1989 Fat Man and Little Boy: This one is about the Manhattan Project and inspired me to research the topic after watching. I liked this one a lot.
  15. 1989 Elvis Stories (Short): Just silly.
  16. 1990 The Grifters: An early favorite of mine.I didn’t think I was going to enjoy it but, oh my goodness, it’s fucking awesome.
  17. 1991 True Colors: A good, interesting movie. Not a favorite though.
  18. 1991 Shadows and Fog: I’m not a huge Woody Allen fan and this movie didn’t change that.
  19. 1992 Roadside Prophets: Not a bad movie. It kept me interested. Cusack plays a crazy dine-and-dasher.
  20. 1992 The Player: A fun watch. Cusack has a cameo.
  21. 1992 Map of the Human Heart: Another one that I was unsure of until I watched it. A touching story.
  22. 1992 Bob Roberts: I’m usually not a fan of the mockumentary style but this movie was interesting. Watching it in 2017 definitely had an affect on the message.
  23. 1993 Money for Nothing: What would you do if you found $1.2 million? Inspired by a true story.
  24. 1994 Floundering: Soooo fucking 90’s.
  25. 1994 Bullets Over Broadway: A quirky movie bordering on annoying.
  26. 1994 The Road to Wellville
  27. 1996 City Hall: Not bad.
  28. 1996 Frasier (TV Series) Our Father Whose Art Ain’t Heaven (1996) … Greg (voice): I don’t know if I’ve ever seen an entire episode of Frasier other than this one.

    Grosse Pointe Blank
  29. 1997 Grosse Pointe Blank: Another absolute favorite of mine. Funny, witty, good acting, good music, and just all around awesome.
  30. 1997 Con Air: An entertaining action movie.
  31. 1997 Chicago Cab: Another one I fell asleep during. From what I remember it was a little odd.
  32. 1997 Anastasia: Not historically accurate but an entertaining watch.
  33. 1997 Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: I really enjoyed this movie and have the book on my “to read” list. I’ll get to it eventually.
  34. 1998 This Is My Father
  35. 1998 The Thin Red Line: Very good movie. The cinematography, music, and themes are all extremely powerful. A bit on the long side but worth it.
  36. 1999 The Jack Bull (TV Movie): One of my favorite Cusack movies. An amazing and strong story. Just brilliant.
  37. 1999 Pushing Tin: Kind of weird but mostly good.
  38. 1999 Cradle Will Rock: This one was really good. It reminded me a little of Ragtime because they both follow a group of characters and how their stories intertwine. I highly recommend watching this one.
  39. 1999 Being John Malkovich: An interesting idea but not really my thing.
  40. 2000 High Fidelity: I feel like the only person in the world who doesn’t understand the hype about this movie.
  41. 2001 America’s Sweethearts: A fun watch. Nothing super special about this romcom.
  42. 2001 Serendipity: Another fun watch. A little crazy but entertaining.
  43. 2002 Max: Holy shit. This movie. It inspired me to look into paintings by Hitler and sparked some serious conversations about challenges to those conceptions we have toward people and historical figures in general.
  44. 2002 Adaptation. (uncredited): There are a few scenes that take place on the set of Being John Malkovich which is likely where Cusack would have appeared but I didn’t see him. A weird movie in general.
  45. 2003 Identity: Can you call this a psychological thriller? I would.
  46. 2003 Runaway Jury: A good movie with a good twist. I have the book on my shelf that I’ll eventually read.
  47. 2005 Must Love Dogs: If I had to have a favorite romcom, it’d be this one … Or Under the Tuscan Sun. It’s fun to watch and Diane Lane is a favorite.
  48. 2005 The Ice Harvest: I liked it. The humor isn’t for everyone.
  49. 2006 The Contract: I know I’ve seen this movie but I can’t remember it.
  50. 2007 Grace Is Gone: This movie was hard to watch. Not because of the acting (so strong) or because of the subject matter (timely and honest). It was so incredibly heart-wrenching yet poignant. Few movies have made me cry and this was one of them. I had to turn it off and finish watching it another day. In my opinion this is the type of movie that Cusack should be known for, not Say Anything.

    Martian Child
    The Martian Child
  51. 2007 1408: Not a huge Steven King fan and not a fan of this movie.
  52. 2007 Martian Child: Touching.
  53. 2008 Summerhood (uncredited): I really liked this movie. It’s so heartwarming.
  54. 2008 War, Inc.: Another absolute favorite of mine. Some call it the unofficial sequel to Grosse Point Blank but whatever you want to call it, it’s amazing. Every time I watch this movie I pick up on something else.
  55. 2008 Igor: Sure it’s animated but I like the message. I have an Igor bobblehead.
  56. 2009 2012: Some of the action scenes were just … laughable. Overall not an awful movie.
  57. 2010 Designing the End of the World (Short): A bonus feature on the 2012 DVD. Not sure why a bonus feature is listed but whatever. I watched it. Pretty cool to see how they put all the special effects together. Makes me feel bad for laughing at some of the scenes given all the hard work and time people put into making it.
  58. 2010 Hot Tub Time Machine: Please do not take this movie seriously. It’s a lot of fun to watch.
  59. 2010 Shanghai: I really wanted to like this movie. It sounded so interesting but in the end something didn’t click. Something was missing.
  60. 2012 The Raven: I like Poe but not this movie.
  61. 2012 The Paperboy: Soooooo good. I immediately bought the book (just as good).
  62. 2012 The Factory: An interesting and slightly creeping movie idea.
  63. 2013 The Numbers Station: Meh. I watched it but I felt like Cusack was phoning it in.
  64. 2013 The Frozen Ground: A thriller. A good one at that. Cusack plays creepy very well.
  65. 2013 Lee Daniels’ The Butler: A long movie but a good movie. I enjoy these types of movies a lot.
  66. 2013 Grand Piano: An interesting idea but it fell flat. I think the acting had something to do with it.

    adult world
    Adult World
  67. 2013 Adult World: I liked this movie. A little exaggerated in some areas but overall a good watch.
  68. 2013 Doll & Em (TV Series) Three: I watched just enough episodes to get an understanding and then stopped watching. It’s not a bad show. I just have far too many already on my plate.
  69. 2013 No Somos Animales (2017 We’re No Animals)
  70. 2014 The Bag Man: Another one that I know I’ve watched but I can’t remember it. :-\
  71. 2014 Maps to the Stars: Weird.
  72. 2014 Drive Hard: Awful.
  73. 2014 The Prince: I think they just wanted to make an action movie. This one wasn’t very good.
  74. 2014 Love & Mercy: I love a good biopic and this one was satisfying. I found myself researching The Beach Boys and Brian Wilson after watching it. Bonus: even the husband enjoyed it!
  75. 2014 Reclaim: I liked how it started but not where the plot went. It wasn’t bad but it also wasn’t good.
  76. 2014 Wall Street (TV Movie): From what I can find on this it’s actually a CBS pilot.
  77. 2015 Dragon Blade: I went into this one not knowing what to expect but I ended up liking it. It was entertaining and better than expected. I also wrote a sort-of review on it in a previous post.
  78. 2015 Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (unrated version, uncredited): I’ve seen HTTM2 (meh) but not the unrated version. I know in the theatrical they show a picture of Cusack’s character but I have no idea if there’s something more in the unrated. I highly doubt it.

  79. 2015 Chi-Raq: It’s a modern adaptation of Lysistrata set in Chicago and is so. fucking. good. The acting is out of this world and the subject matter is haunting. It’s a powerful movie. Right up there with Grace is Gone. I also included a overview of this movie in a previous post where I also wrote about Dragon Blade.
  80. 2016 Cell: I have the book and want to read it before watching the movie. I have plans to do a post comparing the two.
  81. 2017 Arsenal: This movie has a really strong message but I found myself thinking that some of the characters were fucking crazy and I was unsure of why some of them were present.

As you can tell I’m only missing a handful of titles. I’ve searched several avenues and can’t find them and some of them are oddly expensive to purchase (I’m looking at you Road to Wellville and This is my Father). My best bet is to stumble across them at a garage sale or thrift store. Considering how long this list is, I think I did well.


I watched a lot of John Cusack movies and then wrote a blog post about it.